The NHC said the threat of tornadoes was increasing as Florence neared shore and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said the heavy rain could trigger landslides in the west of his state. The military has the benefit of using its own bases, such as Fort Bragg in North Carolina, to pre-position relief supplies and equipment. According to Fire Chief Glen Rogers, there are in fact only 12 people left on the beach to sit out the storm.
"Cameras outside the International Space Station captured views of Hurricane Florence on September 14 at 7:41 a.m. EDT minutes after the storm made landfall near Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina packing winds of 90 miles an hour", NASA said in a video description.
Florence, which has been branded a once in a lifetime hurricane, crashed into the coastline on Friday morning.
Florence made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane at 7:15 am at Wrightsville Beach, a few miles east of Wilmington and not far from the SC line, coming ashore along a mostly boarded-up, emptied-out stretch of coastline.
Gov. Roy Cooper said Friday that Florence is "wreaking havoc" and he's concerned "whole communities" could be wiped away.
In all, the US military said it positioned about 9,600 USA service members, including 6,570 National Guard personnel, at various bases across the Southeast, along with helicopters and high-wheeled vehicles, in order to mount Hurricane Florence relief efforts. Emergency declarations were in force in Georgia, South and North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Coastal streets were inundated with ocean water, causing damage to dozens of homes and businesses, officials said.
Airlines canceled more than 2,100 flights through Sunday.
In New Bern, population 29,000, flooding on the Neuse River trapped people, and Mayor Dana Outlaw told The Charlotte Observer that about 200 had been rescued by 5 am Residents reached out for help through the night by phone and social media.
The storm made landfall Friday at 7:15 a.m. ET just south of Wrightsville Beach - about 6.5 miles due east for Wilmington, North Carolina.
Still, he said: "I feel like the dumbest human being who ever walked the face of the earth".
Forecasters said "catastrophic" freshwater flooding was expected along waterways far from the coast of North and SC.
"The National Hurricane Center said Florence is moving very slowly to the west at only 6 miles an hour, then is expected to turn to the southwest, increasing the threat for historic storm surge and catastrophic flooding to coastline areas and inland cities in North Carolina and SC".
As Hurricane Florence crashed onto the Carolinas, federal emergency teams prepared themselves to work on a long process of rebuilding the storm-battered landscape it would leave behind.